In today’s world, where sustainability and cost-effectiveness are of paramount importance, businesses are seeking innovative ways to reduce their environmental footprint while maximizing their profits. It’s worth noting that inefficient energy consumption accounts for a substantial portion of workplace energy bills. However, by adopting smart energy management practices and optimizing electricity use behaviour, companies can reduce their energy usage and slash their energy costs by up to 5%-8% or more.
Monitoring of energy consumption plays a pivotal role in this endeavour by providing insightful usage data that helps identify energy-intensive areas in need of optimization. In this blog post, we will explore energy use and energy efficiency monitoring hardware, such as energy monitors, as well as software solutions specifically designed for workplace and commercial building energy management.
II. Major Sources of Electricity Consumption in the Workplace
According to the US Energy Information Administration, energy consumption in small or midsize office buildings is primarily dominated by ventilation, followed by computing and lighting. In fact, the HVAC system alone accounts for over 36% of the total energy use, as depicted in the chart below.
Typical Office Building Electricity Consumption by End Use in the US
(by the US Energy Information Administration 2012)
Aside from HVAC, it’s important to recognize the significant contribution of other office equipment and miscellaneous appliances, which collectively take up around 21% of the total energy use. While these devices are often challenging to monitor and manage individually due to their diverse plug connections, their energy consumption should not be overlooked.
Thus, effectively monitoring electricity usage at different levels requires a comprehensive approach. Before delving into the powerful energy monitoring hardware and software, it’s essential to gain an overall understanding of the steps of applying energy monitoring in the workplace.
III. Energy Monitoring in the workplace
From hardware to software and eventual optimization, this segment unveils how the integration of energy monitoring practices can pave the way toward a workplace environment that can maximize savings.
Step 1: Install energy monitoring devices for real-time data
To effectively manage energy consumption in a workplace setting, the installation of energy monitoring devices is paramount. These devices are positioned within the power distribution board or connected to sockets to capture consumption patterns across different levels of energy use: office-wide, significant loads, and smaller appliances.
Step 2: Track usage patterns and identify wastage
Utilizing an array of software and platforms tailored to diverse scales of businesses, data can be stored and analyzed comprehensively. Through these tools, energy consumption data is dissected, revealing periods of peak usage and the specific appliance that contributes to the energy usage. This analysis pinpoints potential areas of inefficiency where energy consumption surpasses anticipated levels and possible electric bill-saving opportunities.
Step3: Optimize Energy Consumption Habits for Savings
By harmonizing power usage behaviours with data-derived consumption patterns, how much electricity is unnecessary expenditure is brought to light for optimization. This includes addressing issues like inadvertently left-on lights or continuous water heating. Furthermore, leveraging historical data stored locally or in the cloud aids in monitoring progress and deepening the understanding of achieved energy-saving milestones.
IV. Devices for Monitoring Energy Use
When it comes to monitoring energy use in the workplace, several devices can offer valuable insights and data. These devices include:
- Smart energy monitors with meter appearance
- Smart energy monitors with external current sensors
- Smart energy sensors
- Smart plugs / Sockets
In another blog post, the features of the above four types are compared. To gain a comprehensive understanding of workplace power usage, a combination of smart energy sensors and smart plugs is highly recommended. While other types of devices offer their own benefits, let’s explore a real case that highlights the advantages of smart energy sensors:
In a specific office installation, a meter-look-like energy monitor was considered. However, upon closer inspection, it was evident that the power distribution board had no available DIN rail space to accommodate the monitor. As a solution, an electrician had to attach an extra fuse box to accommodate the energy monitor, which added complexity and additional costs.
A meter-look-like energy monitor was installed outside of the power distribution board
In contrast, smart energy sensors like the SPM01 and SPM02 offer significant advantages, particularly in terms of space utilization. The chart below illustrates a power distribution board with two three-phase smart energy sensors, specifically the SPM02 model. Notably, these sensors occupy no DIN rail space and can be flexibly installed.
Smart energy sensors installed in a space-limited power distribution board
By employing smart energy sensors, businesses can monitor the energy consumption of different circuits, including those dedicated to lighting, air conditioning, and more. Complementing these sensors, smart plugs offer the capability to monitor individual office appliances like printers and paper shredders. Together, this combination enables comprehensive energy monitoring at both the circuits and the appliances levels, while the other types of energy monitor may not offer the same level of flexibility and versatility as smart energy sensors and smart plugs.
V. Software for Monitoring and Analysis
Effective energy monitoring and analysis require software solutions that cater to different scales and needs of enterprises. Here are three typical software options used for electricity monitoring:
1. Energy Management Software (EMS):
EMS is a versatile suite of software applications designed to facilitate energy-related tasks. It offers features such as utility bill tracking, real-time metering, HVAC and lighting control, simulation and modelling, sustainability reporting, equipment management etc.
2. Building Management System (BMS):
A BMS is a comprehensive control system that monitors and manages various mechanical and electrical services within a facility. It provides centralized control and automation of systems like HVAC, lighting, security, and more. By integrating and controlling these systems, a BMS helps optimize energy usage and streamline facility operations.
3. Facility Management Software (FMS):
Facility management software offers a holistic solution for efficiently overseeing and maintaining buildings and assets. It enables businesses to manage maintenance activities and schedule inspections. By streamlining facility operations, this software enhances energy efficiency and energy savings, reduces downtime and maximizes the lifespan of building assets.
Overall, EMS focuses on energy-related tasks such as bill tracking and real-time energy monitoring, while BMS primarily controls and manages mechanical and electrical services in a building, and FMS oversees the maintenance and operations of facilities and assets in an efficient manner.
Furthermore, Bituo Technik’s energy sensors, SPM01/02, are highly versatile and adaptable to various software applications. Equipped with a wide range of communication methods such as Wifi, Zigbee, RS485, and LoRa WAN, SPM can seamlessly integrate with EMS, BMS, and FMS, with both local access and direct cloud connection options available. Also, coming with both wired and wireless technologies, SPM01/02 fully meets the diverse needs of different types of workplaces.
VI. Unlock Potential Energy Savings
Armed with valuable insights from monitoring data, businesses can take proactive measures to optimize energy consumption in the workplace and unlock the potential for significant energy savings.
For example, one of the key areas where substantial savings can be achieved is in the HVAC system, which typically accounts for the highest electricity consumption in offices. Based on energy monitoring data, simple steps such as implementing smart temperature controls, regular maintenance, or upgrading to energy-efficient models can make a big difference.
However, the benefits of energy monitoring extend beyond the workplace alone. Rental spaces also have a great opportunity to reap the advantages of energy monitoring. Discover even more about how energy monitors help revolutionize energy management practices in rental properties.